Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tomorrow Today

Global temperatures are set to rise more than one degree above pre-industrial levels according to the UK's Met Office. Figures from January to September this year are already 1.02C above the average between 1850 and 1900. If temperatures remain as predicted, 2015 will be the first year to breach this key threshold. The world would then be half way towards 2C, the gateway to dangerous warming. The new data is certain to add urgency to political negotiations in Paris later this month aimed at securing a new global climate treaty.
“This is the first time we’re set to reach the 1C marker and it’s clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory,” said Stephen Belcher, director of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, said.

Government energy policy changes since the election are likely to increase CO2 emissions, according to BBC analysis. The political decision to reject onshore wind energy and solar power in the countryside is likely to stem the growth of two of the UK's cheapest sources of clean energy. The Financial Times newspaper reports a Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) contact saying affordability had now taken precedence over emissions. Prof Jim Watson, research director for the UK Energy Research Centre agreed that most of the policy changes were likely to increase CO2 emissions just as the prime minister is preparing for a UN summit at which more than 150 nations have promised to reduce emissions. The UN's Environment Programme's chief scientist, Prof Jacquie McGlade, recently told BBC News she was alarmed by policy changes within the UK itself.

The facts about climate change should scare you, so why don’t we seem to care?   For many climate change means the petty inconvenience of having to sort your rubbish into real garbage and recyclable trash. Perhaps for some there will be less snow in the winter and they’ll have to go somewhere else for their skiing holiday but you’ll enjoy a glorious summer and get a great sun-tan. However the reality is that just a couple of degrees shift in the global climate will affect everything from the seasons to the sea levels, the wealth of entire nations, the amount of food and we’ll have, war, famine and pestilence.  

Everything that happens birth, death and everything in between are treated as commodities, purchased, rented and leased as units of marketable goods. In this economy the creation of profit for the minority comes first and foremost and benefits for the majority public is secondary. The motivating force of the capitalist system is the never-ending quest for profits and accumulation. It must continually expand. It impacts on every aspect of people's lives. We can’t just reform the current system. There can be no lasting solution to the world’s economic and environmental crises as long as capitalism remains the social system on this planet.

People demanding change are not united in focusing on the political economics at the root of most global problems but they are moving in that direction. This shows that many can understand the situation.  Because of the crisis people are actually questioning capitalism, because they’re being forced to. Capitalist "truths" are being delegitimatised by experience on the ground. People are talking, reading, and thinking.  Many people understand that we have reached a critical turning point that demands radical change in how and why we produce the means of supporting life to the advantages of a shrinking minority which amasses incredible wealth while the vast majority are living in or fast approaching a status close to poverty. How do we unite in a way where we keep the diversity of multiple movements but still work together in solidarity? The answer is a common vision. If a movement does not have some vision of what it wants to become, it cannot know whether it is heading in the right direction or not. Capitalism constantly throws up alternative futures for itself. There is so much mythologised that ignorance is more common than knowledge even among the best informed.

Many speculate and forecast the future where the liberatory hopes of the past, and the confidence in the collective power of our class has given way to the uncertain hope and pessimism. The idea that the worse things get, the better they will be for revolutionary prospects dominates the thinking of some on the Left. If conditions become dire, then the blinkers with fall from the eyes of the misled masses is their logic. So if worsening conditions make it more favourable for radical change, then it requires these "radicals" to make matters worse to hasten the break-down, regardless that it brings repression down upon others and lends itself to developing various forms of authoritarianism within the Left. 

Periods of radical social upheaval have followed economic crises. But there is nothing preordained that suffering and lower living standards automatically prompt workers to radical collective action. Workers can seek different ways to cope, some of which would not win the approval of the Left. Historically, workers often take actions, even collective ones, to shut other workers out of better jobs based on race, ethnicity, or gender—such as “hate strikes” by white workers against the hiring or promotion of workers of color. Innumerable acts of solidarity and resistance, of course, mark the history of capitalism. But they are not the only recourse to which members of the working class resort in hard times. It behooves socialists to construct a politics that categorically rejects this catastrophism. No amount of fire and brimstone can substitute for the often-protracted, difficult, and frequently unrewarding work of building up workers class consciousness. No serious socialist group can afford to abandon socialist education.

The science of ecology gives us powerful tools for understanding how nature functions — as interrelated, integrated ecosystems. It gives us essential insights into humanity’s impact on the environment, but it lacks a serious political social analysis. There exists a reformist fallacy that capitalists foreseeing an environmental apocalyptical future would stop investing their capital in unethical enterprises. Capitalists are the servants (“the functionaries” as Marx described them) of capital. They cannot but accumulate more and more capital: that is their function. Let us suppose that many capitalists do perceive that their interests are facing an ecological threat. What good would it do them to withdraw their capital? The capitalists are incapable of class unity, and no sooner would one withdraw investment than another would take his place as a new functionary of capital.

Socialism can make an ecologically balanced world possible, which is impossible under capitalism. The needs of people and the planet will be the driving forces of the economy, rather than profit. It will set about restoring ecosystems and re-establishing agriculture and industry based on environmentally sound principles. The only way we can change the world is to be fighting for the goal of socialism today. The longer we take to get started, the harder it will be. 

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